MECH307 - Course Policies

I. Academic Honesty

This course will adhere to the Academic Integrity Policy of the Colorado State University General Catalog Student Responsibilities, and the Mechanical Engineering Student Academic Integrity Policy. Please review the material at these links. In short, you are expected to not give, receive, or use any unauthorized assistance for any course work (past exams, homework solutions from past students, online or printed solutions to book problems, etc.).

The policies below provide additional specific guidelines for this course.

II. General and Homework

  1. You are responsible for everything you miss in class (handouts, notes, assignments, etc.). Extra handouts can be printed from the course website (see handouts).
  2. Groups are formed by Dr. Dave and the TA based on the student information surveys.  You can list on the survey people you would like to work with. Be careful to select people that you will trust to do work reliably and on time -- don't necessarily pick your "friends." You will work with the same group (usually 3-4 people, always from the same Lab section) throughout the semester.
  3. Group members are required to work together on all homework assignments, all Lab exercises, and on the Project. For homework, the following approach is recommend: try to work the problems individually first, then compare your approaches and results with your group members, then work together to settle on the correct approach and final answers.  DO NOT DIVIDE THE PROBLEMS UP WITHIN YOUR GROUP -- EACH PERSON SHOULD TRY TO WORK EVERY PROBLEM.
  4. The group number and all member names must be included on all material submitted by the group. A 3-point deduction will be applied if any of this info is missing.
  5. Submit only one assignment write-up for the entire group. If multiple write-ups are submitted, the lowest score will be recorded for all group members.
  6. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU SHOW ALL STEPS IN YOUR WORK.  GRADING WILL BE BASED ON THE COMPLETENESS, CLARITY, AND CORRECTNESS OF YOUR WORK, NOT JUST THE ANSWERS YOU PROVIDE.
  7. Submitted homework assignments must be original work.  Do not copy work from other groups, past students, solution manuals, other books, etc.
  8. Homework must be submitted before the beginning of class the day it is due. If you have trouble getting to class early, you should turn in your homework the night before or earlier in the morning (by sliding it under Dr. Dave's office door). Late work will not be accepted without penalty, unless there are extreme unanticipatable and unavoidable circumstances. The late penalty is based on when the work is turned in (to Dr. Dave, or under his office door) as follows: during or after class = -10%; 1-2 hours late = -15%; 2-4 hours late = -25%; 4-8 hours late = -50%; next day before class time = -75%, more than 1 day late = -100% (no credit). Homework may not be submitted in parts ... you must turn in what you have by the deadline (for no penalty) or submit everything late (with a penalty).
  9. If you are are having difficulty working with your group members, please try to openly discuss the issues with your group. Also, feel free to discuss it with your TA and/or Dr. Dave.
  10. Homework solutions will be posted on Canvas.  Point allocations for each problem will be shown on the solutions.  Please refer to these before questioning the grading of an assignment.

III. Laboratory

  1. You must read the Lab write-up in the Lab book BEFORE coming to Lab. You should also view the related online video demonstrations. There will be a quiz at the beginning of each Lab to test whether or not each person has come prepared (by reading the Lab and associated textbook material). If you are not in Lab at the beginning of the period (e.g., within the first 10 minutes), you will not be allowed to take the quiz.
  2. During the 2nd week of the semester, each group will be given a kit of components and tools (with a breadboard), an Arduino starter kit (also containing useful components), and an NI ELVIS board that will be reused throughout the semester. You must have the component/tool kit and ELVIS board with you each week in Lab. We recommend you always keep them in Lab in one of the lockable storage bins. The kit, in addition to containing most components needed for the Lab exercises, also contains components needed to get started on the project PIC-programming deliverables due later in the semester. Any components lost or damaged must be replaced by the group. Please be very careful with your kit and components. Everything is yours to keep except the ELVIS board, which must be returned at the end of the semester.
  3. Each group is welcome to use one of the lockable storage bins in Lab to store things related to the Lab and your Project. If you use a bin, you must place a card with your group number in the plastic label holder on the bin door. The bins are "first come, first served." Your lock and all materials/components must be removed by the day after the Final Exam for the project score to be released (and for no penalty).
  4. If a "project deliverable" is shown on the syllabus as being due for a given week, you must have your project design notebook with you in Lab that week for the TA to check while you work.
  5. Each group must print (or tear out) and turn in completed Lab Summary and Questions sections (with each participating group member's name on it) before the end of the Lab period. Before you leave the Lab, also return all of the non-kit components, tools, and supplies to the TA.
  6. A Lab Practical Exam will evaluate each student's hands-on proficiency with the Lab instruments and basic circuits. Therefore, each individual should participate in all aspects of the laboratory exercises. NOTE - The Lab Practical is an exam, so the TA is not allowed to give you any help during the exam. The Lab Practical is closed book and closed notes. No calculator is allowed. The only things allowed are a pencil and an eraser. Resistor color codes, and any other necessary reference information, will be provided. If you are color blind, the TA will identify resistor-band colors for you. You won't need your group kit or your ELVIS board ... the TAs will provide all components and boards required. Only two stripped wires will be provided (for power and ground). Circuit resistors will need to be connected directly from power and ground on the breadboard. RDS students are allowed 50% extra time (time and a half), but they must take the Lab Practical in the Lab, starting in the last time slot of any Lab section, and extending beyond for the extra time. Examples of skills each individual will be asked to demonstrate during the exam include: Good Labs to study and practice for review are Lab 2, Lab 3 (basic stuff only), and Lab 7.
  7. If you are unable to make it to your scheduled Lab, you can make arrangements with your TA to make-up the Lab during one of the other scheduled times. If you don't make arrangements before your scheduled Lab (e.g., by contacting your TA via phone or e-mail, or in person), you will still be allowed and encouraged to make-up the Lab by the following week, but you will receive a maximum of 50% credit for the Lab.
  8. The Lab can be accessed (e.g., for project work or Lab Practical practice) via card-reader access. By the 2nd week of the semester, you should have 24/7 access. If you are the last person to leave the Lab, please turn off the lights and make sure the lock latches when you close the door. If for some reason you don't have access to the Lab (e.g., if you registered late), or if you want access in the future (e.g., to work on a Senior Design Project), you can request it here: http://www.engr.colostate.edu/access/.
  9. The computers in the Lab are intended for PIC programming only. You should not use these computers for general purpose computing (word processing, e-mail, CAD). Also, please be respectful and share the computers. You can edit code on the computers, but PIC programming takes priority. Major code editing should be done in the general purpose Labs or on your laptops.
  10. No food or drink is allowed in the Lab at any time!

IV. Exams

  1. Exams during the semester will be administered during the regular class period (50 minutes), in the regular lecture room, and will be multiple-choice format.  The purposes for the multiple-choice exams are to eliminate time as a factor; eliminate traditional "plug and chug" number crunching; test a broad understanding by having many simple, diverse questions rather than just a few big problems; and to provide fast, fair, and uniform grading without need for "partial credit."
  2. The purpose for exams is to test understanding and application of basic concepts and principles in the course. The purpose is not to give traditional, detailed homework-like analysis problems or open-ended design problems. In my view, a limited time, high pressure, in-class exam is not the appropriate forum for attempting to evaluate problem-solving and solution-synthesis skills. In principle, oral exams or take-home exams would be better tools to measure knowledge and understanding; however, there are practical issues that eliminate these options as possibilities.
  3. One of the reasons multiple-choice exams are used is to break down very large problems into small parts so "partial credit" is automatic. If 3 or 4 large problems were used instead of 25-35 small sub-problem questions, points would still be taken off for the small sub-problems answered incorrectly on the large-problem exam. The multiple-choice exam format is lower stress, eliminates time as a factor with the exams given during the regular class time (instead of 2-3 hour evening exams), prevents the loss of a huge number of points if a student were to totally space out on a large problem, and provides a good measure of basic understanding of the material. Also, grading is fast, impartial, and error-free. Also, many important exams you might take in the future (e.g., FE, PE, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) are also multiple choice, so it is important you are comfortable with these types of exams.
  4. All exams will be closed book, closed notes, and closed neighbor.  The only things allowed during the examinations are pencils and erasers. Useful equations will be provided with the exam (see the sample exams). No calculators are allowed (or necessary).
  5. You are required to bring you CSU ID to all examinations. You must enter and fill in dots for your last name and CSU ID # (not SSN) on your Scantron sheets. If you don't enter the information correctly, there will be a penalty.
  6. Make-up exams will be given only in the event of unanticipatable and unavoidable circumstances. If you fail to show up for an exam (e.g., because you are sick), and there was no communication (an e-mail or phone call) before the exam day and time, you will not be allowed to make up the exam.
  7. The final exam will be comprehensive but will stress material not covered by previous examinations.
  8. Information for RDS students only: You must e-mail or drop off your RDS accommodation letter to Dr. Dave at least 1 week before the first exam, and you must schedule each exams at least 1 week ahead of time on the RDS website; otherwise, you will not be allowed to take your exams at RDS. Also, if you must take your exam at a different time than the rest of the class (e.g., because you have a class immediately after MECH307), you must schedule your exam before but as close as possible to the regularly-scheduled time.
  9. Any form of cheating on any examination will result in severe penalties (e.g., F in the course or expulsion from the university).
  10. Your "Exam Zip Strips" showing your answers and the correct answers can be viewed in Canvas.

V. Grading

  1. Any disagreement with exam grading must be settled with Dr. Dave within one week after the graded material is returned.
  2. Any disagreement with homework or Lab-related grading must be settled with your TA, also within one week after the graded material is returned.
  3. Any grade recording errors must be reported within one week of when they are first posted on the website; otherwise, the originally-posted scores are final.
  4. Grading will be adjusted at the end of the semester with a sliding scale (e.g., an 87.4 might be an A).  Cutoff scores between the letter grades will be based on overall class performance and based on the distribution of scores.  Cutoffs usually occur where there are gaps between clusters of similar scores.  Initial cutoffs will be based on the traditional decade-based grading scale (90 for A, 80 for B, etc.).  The cutoffs will never be above the decade-based values (i.e., you will never require a score higher than 89.5 to receive an A). Estimated grades will be posted throughout the semester so you always know where you stand.
  5. +/- grading (for C+ and above) will be used for borderline final scores.  It will be applied only at the end of the semester. The exact cutoff points for the +/- grades depend on how scores are distributed around the sliding-scale cutoffs, but the +/- cutoffs are usually within 0-3 points of the sliding-scale cutoffs. The goal is for students with similar scores to get the same grade.
  6. If you are an ME major, you must get a D or better in this course. If you get an F, you must retake this course. With a retake of MECH307, you have the option of using your Lab (all or nothing) and/or Project grades from the previous (latest) time you took the course (see previous semester grades). You must indicate your decision on the student info survey. All homework assignments and the exams must be redone, regardless of what you decide with the Lab and Project. You will be assigned to a group to work on homework and any component(s) you are repeating. If you are not repeating a component, you do not need to contribute to the group on that component.
  7. In the middle and at the end of the semester, you will be required to report on how your group performed together.  You will evaluate how well each of your group members contributed to the group with homework, Lab work, and the project.  An individual's final grade may be adjusted by as much as one letter grade based on these evaluations and Dr. Dave's and the TA's impressions.  A positive adjustment will be given to an individual who worked much harder and contributed much more than the rest of the group, and a negative adjustment will be given to an individual who didn't work hard and didn't contribute much to the group. The correlation or disparity between a person's individual vs. group scores is also considered. The results of the grade adjustments are not reported until the end of the semester. An adjustment is reported only if it had an effect on the final grade.
  8. No individual extra credit work or extra points (or fractions of points) will be offered to improve grades, regardless or how persuasive you might try to be.